Gimpel Beynish the Matchmaker
(Gimpl Beynish der Shadkhn)
Yiddish Comics of the early 20th century

Translation and commentary by Jane Peppler
Click here to read about and order the seven Gimpel books I've published.

Comics read right to left. Click on any comic strip for larger view.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

In Germany, Gimpel digs trenches and peers into a cannon. 11-9-1914, 11-10-1914

In the first panel we see a demoralized Gimpel. He has not been able to convince Kaiser Wilhelm to give up his soldiers to be bridegrooms for Gimpel's girls back home and there are no local matches to be made.

Remember, the Jews of Manhattan's Lower East Side were by and large rooting for the Germans in the Great War overseas, because they hated Nicholas II so much, and some Jewish lads from New York had sailed overseas to fight with the Austrian/German Army, so Gimpel is visiting them there. Tsar Nikolay was in alliance with England and France against the "modern threesome" of Austria, Germany, and Turkey (here's a song about that yetstike troyke).

Earlier we saw an informative illustration from the Warheit about trenches. When he gets put to work digging he calls his employers "Daytshukes," a derogatory diminutive nickname. Try not to think khurbn when you see this frame.

November 9, 1914: In a war he too can be put to use digging trenches.
  1. GB: What am I doing here and what can I do? A fine how-de-do, I swear.
  2. GB: I sit around idle this way day and night - except when I hit dogs.
  3. Officer: You've got nothing to do? What didn't you say so? I'll put you to work.
  4. GB: Naturally he'll take me to the administrative office and give me something to write.
  5. GB: A plague on all lousy Germans. To make a man like me dig holes.

November 10, 1914: "The whole Russian army is in Germany"

November 10, 1914: He's not yet a great expert on cannons.
  1. And this is what they call a gun! Sad to say, this is what modern war heroism has come to!
  2. This wouldn't make a bad stovepipe, but a gun?
  3. It's not for nothing the Germans are in such a fix. [lying so deep in the earth]
  4. You could shoot sweet potatoes from such a gun.
  5. Sh'ma Yisrael!

אין אַ מלחמה קען ער אױך צונוץ קומען אױף צו גראָבען ״טרענטשעס.״

גימפּעל בײניש: װאָס טהו איך דאָ און װאָס קען איך טהוען? שעהן אַרײַנגעפֿאַלען, װיא איך בין אַ מענש.
גימפּעל בײניש: אָט אַזױ געה איך אַרום לײדיג טאָג און נאַכט – סײַדען שלאָגען הינט.
אָפֿיציער: איהר האָט גאָרניט צו טהוען? פֿאַרװאָס-זשע זאָגט איהר ניט? איך׳ל אײַך פֿאַרזאָרגען.
גימפּעל בײניש: ער װעט מיך אודאי אַרײַננעהמען אין קאָנצעליאַריע און מיר גיבען צו שרײַבען.
גימפּעל בײניש: אַ ניכפּה אױף אַלע דײַטשוקעס. שטעלט אַװעק אַזאַ מאַן װיא איך גראָבען גריבער.

קײן גרױסער עקספּערט אױף קאַנאָנען איז ער נאָך ניט.

און דאָס רופֿען זײ אַ ביקס! מישטײנס געזאָגט, הײַנטיגע מלחמה-העלדען!
אַ קױמען װאָלט דאָס געװען אַ ניש-קשה׳דיגער, אָבער אַ ביקס?
ניט אומזיסט ליעגען דיא דײַטשען אַזױ טיעף אין דער אַרטה.
סװיט פּאַטײטאָס װאָלט מען געקענט שיסען מיט אַזעלכע ביקסען.
שמע ישראל!!

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